ANCHORAGE — Alaska Attorney General John J. Burns has submitted his resignation less than a year after taking office, the governor’s office announced Friday.
The 51-year-old Fairbanks attorney cited his desire to spend more time with his family in the resignation letter sent to Gov. Sean Parnell. His departure is effective Jan. 2, 2012.
“It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as Attorney General. I have been privileged and honored to serve you and the state of Alaska during this past year,” he wrote in the letter to Parnell.
“My resignation is based solely on personal reasons. Although I have come to realize that it is possible to live out of a suitcase, doing so is neither fair to family nor particularly conducive to one’s health. Family and balance in one’s life should always be one’s first priority and everything else secondary.”
No timeline has been established for selecting Burns’ replacement, Parnell’s spokeswoman Sharon Leighhow said in an email to The Associated Press. “But in all likelihood potential candidates will be interviewed in the coming weeks,” she said.
Burns’ office said he was traveling Friday and not available for comment. However, he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, in a story posted Friday, “To do this job, you need to spend a lot of time in Juneau and Anchorage.”
“One can never fully appreciate the magnitude of the job until one’s in it.”
A tipping point, he told the News-Miner, was that he wasn’t able to return to his family in Fairbanks to prepare their house during the recent cold snap, which saw temperatures plummet to minus 35 or colder for six straight days.
“It is with reluctance that I accept General Burns’ resignation,” Parnell said in a prepared statement. “General Burns is a capable leader and a true public servant dedicated to the people of Alaska. I appreciate his efforts over the past year at the Department of Law where he has led with dedication, professionalism, integrity and a commitment to the best interests of Alaska.”
Burns, who specialized in corporate and insurance defense for the firm Borgeson & Burns before becoming attorney general, replaced Dan Sullivan, who was named to lead the Department of Natural Resources last year.
In an interview with The Associated Press last December, Burns said he did not apply for the job and was humbled that Parnell asked him to accept it. He said he spoke with Parnell for the first time about the position a week before being offered the job after being approached by others to gauge his interest.
Sullivan was a holdover from former Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration.
She named Sullivan, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state in the Bush administration, as attorney general in June 2009, a month before she resigned as governor.